Friday, May 25, 2007

Air Force OKs Laser Surgery for Vision Correction

Air Force officials have changed a policy to allow people applying for aviation and aviation-related jobs to have had LASIK surgery.

Effective May 21, the change also removes the altitude and high-performance aircraft restrictions for people who have had LASIK.

The decision is based on studies that showed LASIK-treated eyes experience little or no effect when subjected to the wind blast experienced during aircraft ejection or exposure to high altitude.

The recommended refractive surgeries are Wave Front Guided Photorefractive Keratectomy (WFG-PRK) and Wave Front Guided Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (WFG-LASIK) using the femtosecond laser. The eyes are more trauma resistant after surgery using these methods compared to other forms of refractive surgeries.

An Air Force memo released this week, however, indicated that such surgeries are elective and are not covered by Tricare benefits. In addition, the memo stated that those "who undergo unauthorized [refractive surgery] treatment may be disqualified or restricted from certain duties."

Individuals still must meet the standards prescribed in AFI 48-123, Medical Examination and Standards, for entrance into the Air Force and aviation and special-duty positions.

Additional information can be found at Air Force Medicine. Air Force personnel are encouraged to follow specific application guidelines to en-sure any such procedures [to] meet force requirements.

Air Force officials also reiterated that there is no guarantee of perfect sight after such surgery.

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